Feeling sad for a stranger today

I read a blog post today, oh boy.

The news left me a wreck, with tears running down my face. Memories rushed in and hit me like a tidal wave. Mommy blogger Moosh in Indy (see her blog listed at left … hyperlink won’t work) shared her thoughts on her friend’s absolutely heart-wrenching news. News of little Maddie Spohr, a sweet life lost way too soon.

Mommy bloggers are coming together all over the country to leave their thoughts, prayers, tears and love. Maddie’s mom and dad are both popular bloggers, and the friends they’ve made–many they’ve never met–are coming together to create memorial funds for their one-and-only baby girl.

The sadness I felt hit immediately and hard. The news was all-too-familiar. Down to the name.

I, too, have a dear friend who lost a daughter way too soon.

And her name was Maddie.

Below is the original article I wrote about Maddie for the newspaper where I worked at the time. I had to fight my editor to run this. The editor, a fatherless young go-getter, said the topic wasn’t something we usually hit on in our publication. But I fought him. I was passionate. I was persistent. I was depressed. I was a total wreck. But I won, and the article ran on our “editorial” page.

Because I didn’t know Maddie Spohr, there’s little I can do or say to anyone to make much difference. I do plan to donate to the March of Dimes “March for Maddie.” I do plan to tell people about her story. I hope to get up the courage to e-mail Heather Spohr to tell her I’m so sorry. I have told my friend, another Maddie mom, about this Maddie. Who knows? Maybe my friend will reach out to this mommy. Let her know that maybe their Maddies can play together in a much sweeter place than this.

With that, here’s the article from Sept. 2, 2004.


Remember what matters most

Stop making excuses and make time for loved ones while you can.

Right now, as I write this, my dear, close friend of 13 years and her husband sit by the hospital bedside of their 7-month-old daughter, while a machine helps her breathe.

It’s been almost a month since she was stricken with Transverse Myelitis, a disease so rare that statistics show it affects only about 1 to 4 people in 1 million. It hits quickly and without much warning, leaving the person paralyzed.

In fact, it was just a little over a month ago when my friend called me from her cell phone. She was almost singing, she was so excited.

“I just couldn’t drive through Indianapolis and not call you,” she said.

She was in the process of moving from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio, her two young daughters in the back seat and her mom behind the wheel. Her husband had gotten a new job.

Things were great for them. They had a new start ahead of them in a new city with a young family.

Then, on August 3, we received a call from my friend’s mother-in-law with the terrifying news.

A lot of people can relate to getting painful news about a friend or loved one, but you can never be prepared for that moment.

For me, it hit like a lead pipe.

“The baby is sick.”

The words ran through my head over and over again.

It’s hard to understand why my friend’s little girl was perfectly healthy one minute, then the next she was paralyzed and in pain. My heart hurts for her.

Before all this happened, I had never met my friend’s baby. In fact, I had never met either of her daughters.

My friend and I were roommates for most of college. Then, we went our separate ways. We’ve kept in touch – but not enough – attending each other’s weddings and exchanging photos of the families via e-mail. When my husband and I had our first son, she and her husband (and dog) visited Indy to meet him.

That was in 2001.

It was time to show my friend I was there for her.

I drove to Columbus this past week to see my friend and to meet her two adorable, sweet daughters. It was her oldest daughter’s second birthday the day I visited. I knelt down and gave her three birthday gifts and watched as she opened them. She smiled from ear to ear.

She has no idea her sister is sick.

I want nothing more than to help my friend through this. I want to be able to tell her everything will be all right. But I can’t. I can’t really do anything to help. I want to tell her I’m sorry for not driving to Chicago the second her girls were born. I just want to turn back time to be a better friend.

Friends come and go in our lives and touch us in many ways. I always joke around that I don’t have many friends. And I don’t. And maybe it’s because I haven’t been a real good one in the past.

My friend is struggling with the greatest pain a person can ever be dealt. I want her to know that I love her, and I’m thinking of her and praying for her, and I’m glad I got to finally meet her daughters.

I’ve learned a lot this past month about feeling scared and helpless, and I tell you this: Don’t lose touch with loved ones. Don’t say you’ll see them later. See them NOW. Because it’s not the job you do or the errands that need run that matter most. It’s family and friends.

Go. Now. Your friend is expecting your call. You’ll be glad you did.



Note: My friend’s daughter, Maddie, shown above, died on September 2, 2004. The same day this article hit the stands.


One thought on “Feeling sad for a stranger today

  1. Oh, this is heartbreaking. Thank you for posting. It must have been terrifically difficult to write that article. My heart goes out to both of these moms, and families, who dealt with every parent’s worst fear.

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